Successful 2015 Cabo Pulmo Campaign


Blog, Coastal & Marine, Conservation

Successful 2015 Cabo Pulmo Campaign

Recently GCMP researchers, Octavio Aburto, Tim Rowell, Andrew F Johnson, and Jose Costa Nieto from the La Paz lab, along with Bangor University (UK) collaborator Jack Egerton returned from another successful expedition to the Cabo Pulmo National Park (CPNP). Their projects and objectives were numerous and this blog gives a brief description of what was undertaken during the campaign and what you can expect to see in upcoming blogs.


The team preparing for a dive.


How many fish?

In 2011 the GCMP and collaborators published a paper noting the huge biomass recovery of fish in the CPNP after its closure to fishing in 1995. This year, in collaboration with Jack Egerton, the team set about using active acoustics to count the fish inside and outside the park. After 8 days traveling up and down the survey area all the data has been collected. Now it’s back to the lab to see what the results look like.


Acoustic receivers attached to a mooring.
Jack surveying the active acoustics to determine the fish counts.


Grouping and spawning – acoustic

In late 2014, Tim Rowell and collaborators tagged 19 Gulf grouper (Mycteroperca jordani) with acoustic telemetry tags in and around the CPNP. Although the fish were tagged successfully, there is still a lot of maintenance for this project with the cleaning of the acoustic receivers and downloading of data. With a total of 12 receivers, that is a lot of diving to make sure all of the gear is in check! This is an ongoing project to try and determine where the Gulf grouper roams in the park and (hopefully) finding out where they form their spawning aggregations… Important information for a species that is in “severe decline” with a limited geographic range.


Gulf Grouper
Tim and Jose cleaning and changing an acoustic receiver.
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Example of Jack’s acoustic outputs, Small box = small school of fish, Big box = large school of fish, Hard red line = seabed


Who is lurking in the deep?

Although we know a lot about Cabo Pulmo’s shallow reefs (those in easy reach by SCUBA divers (<40m) we still know very little about the life in deeper waters around the park. For the first time on this trip the GCMP explored some of these unknown areas along with the help of Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). Using a Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) system, MBARI’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and a mini Remotely Operated Vehicle (mini-ROV) GCMP has now expanded its knowledge of Cabo Pulmo’s underwater world to the surrounding areas, in particular, the deep canyon south in Los Frailes.

Andrew and Tim with Baited Remote Underwater Video System (BRUV)

We’ll keep you posted

We are all still salty and sleep deprived after 4 long weeks in the field … but keep your eyes peeled here in the GCMP blog and on our facebook page for more detailed updates on the specifics for each of the projects as well as the results (longer-term) from our 2015 Cabo Pulmo campaign.



Author:  Andrew F. Johnson

Andrew Johnson’s “fishy selfie”

Postdoctoral Researcher at SIO. Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on the impacts of marine fisheries on fish populations and habitats. Since beginning his studies in marine biology in 2002, Dr. Johnson has traveled extensively, working with nine different fisheries in six countries gaining valuable experience in a range of fishing methods and management strategies. His doctorate at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University (UK, 2012) focused on determining the habitat requirements of demersal fishes and how this knowledge can be used in MPA design. He is passionate about integrating sound ecological knowledge of fishes and ecosystems with the behaviour and patterns of fisheries in order to help predict the future impacts of current exploitation levels. He aims to use such synergies to aid the Gulf of California Marine Program in the design of future, sustainable management strategies for Mexican fisheries.

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